The hurt of losing last year’s Lory Meagher Cup final at Croke Park will hopefully spur the Longford hurlers on to success this season, according to their manager Frank Browne as he prepares the county squad for the opening fixture against Leitrim in Carrick-on-Shannon on Saturday next, 2.30pm.
“I remember the bitter disappointment of losing the Lory Meagher Cup final against Warwickshire last year and the desire to get back to Croke Park. That is the goal and that’s the thing that has been keeping us going. The genuine feeling is that we didn’t do ourselves justice last year. It’s like a siege mentality and we have got to go out and prove something. We need to make that breakthrough and I think we are on the brink of doing that.”
Standing in Longford’s way of reaching another Lory Meagher Cup final are Leitrim, Warwickshire and Fermanagh, all formidable opponents. “We know exactly what we will get from Leitrim. They are going to be strong, have structure and discipline. Fermanagh are going to be strong and physical, just like they were when they beat us in the league. We know what Warwickshire are like too. I think if we can get over Leitrim we will have a big year,” said Browne.
Longford are away to Leitrim this Saturday. After just missing out on promotion to Division 3A, losing to Tyrone by a single point in the Division 3B final, Leitrim will be determined to have a good run in the championship. The Longford boss rates them highly: “If we beat Leitrim we will take serious stopping. It’s a massive game. They are all going to be tough games. What worries me is the psychological preparation of the team. After losing the games in the league we need a win against Leitrim to build that momentum again.”
Being relegated from Division 3A hasn’t been ideal preparation for Longford but Browne admits his players learned a lot from their National league campaign: “The league was super preparation going into the championship. We played decent teams in decent games and we learned a massive amount from it. We are in a good position at the moment. Unfortunately it all turned badly for us in Pearse Park against Fermanagh in what was a costly defeat. But I don’t think we will realise how much we came on as a group until we play the first round of the championship.”
The preparations are nearly completed as the Longford hurlers look ahead to the start of the championship campaign. Browne is hopeful his side can put the disappointing league results behind them.
“After losing a few games in the league you need a good win to get you back on track. That’s what we are hoping to do against Leitrim but I am under no illusions about how tough it will be.”
Looking ahead to the Lory Meagher Cup, Browne said: “We have to get out there and get our game right. If we perform then the result will look after itself. As long as we can come in and say we gave it everything we possibly could.”